The Lake News Online
  • Planning Commission plans ahead to handle “long, sticky case”

  • After a relatively quiet caseload for its July 16 meeting, the Camden County Planning Commission took time to discuss procedure for a major case headed back to its desk next month.
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  • After a relatively quiet caseload for its July 16 meeting, the Camden County Planning Commission took time to discuss procedure for a major case headed back to its desk next month.
    Portions of the development plan and related P&Z mechanisms for land owned by Gary D. Prewitt Living Revocable Trust and Enowski Farms, Inc. that were recommended by the planning commission in April were sent back to the board by the county commission for further consideration after receiving hundreds of letters in opposition to the proposal. Many of these letters were not available for the planning commission to review at the time it made its recommendations.
    According to Planning Commission Chair Jerry Carroll, the time frame for legal public notice of the case required the new hearing to wait until the Aug. 20 meeting. The new notifications also included mailings to properties within 1,300 feet of the tract under review.
    In June, underlying zoning of R-1 low density residential was approved by the county commission for the 28.65 acre tract on Bittersweet Rd. in the Horseshoe Bend area as well as B-1 low density commercial for a 2.2 acre section of the total property in order for development of a satellite parking for Shady Gators Waterfront Bar & Grill to go forward. The proposed B-1 zonings for the rest of the property tied to a conditional use permit (CUP) and planned unit development (PUD) approved by the planning commission was tabled and sent back for review.
    The tract as a whole was undergoing initial zoning after mistakenly going unzoned for years following the implementation of county zoning in 2004 due to an error that placed the property in the Village of Four Seasons.
    After consultation with county P&Z attorney Ryan Harding, new P&Z Administrator Kim Willey said a full rehearing had been advised just on the two motions that were sent back by the county commission. Those motions included B-1 zoning recommendations, the CUP for outdoor dining at the proposed general store and the PUD overlay that would regulate the phased development of nightly rental resort cabins on approximately 22 acres.
    Carroll advised the planning commission that he believed the county commission was wanting them to take the many letters and the concerns addressed in them into consideration. In addition to the existing letters that have been forwarded from the county commission to the planning commission, Carroll added that he has been made aware that a property owners association in the neighborhood of the tract had sent out a letter to members encouraging a write-in campaign to the planning commission against the portion of the proposal under reconsideration.
    "It will probably be a long, sticky case," Carroll commented.
    When the case was heard the first time in March, several citizens attended in support of Prewitt's case, though many of them do not live near the property in question.
    Page 2 of 2 - At the June county commission hearing, close to 70 people packed the meeting room at the Camden County Courthouse in opposition to the proposal. Some of those residents and second home owners stated that they had not been aware of the case which is apparently why many of the letters were also sent in too late for consideration by the planning commission.
    To try to manage time during the rehearing, Carroll said they would try to coordinate testimony to have representatives of groups speak first and hopefully cover many people and issues without hearing from each individual. The planning commission may also limit speakers to three minutes.
    In preparation for the hearing, Carroll asked the planning commission to re-read the restrictions and requirements under R-1 zoning in the Unified Land Use Code (ULC) and try to think what the "worst case scenario" for the property could be under that zoning.
    With the PUD on the cabin area, the B-1 zoning will only be finalized at the start of each phase of the project, according to Carroll.
    If the development plan is for some reason not followed, the underlying zoning of R-1 would remain in place, according to the county.
    Carroll advised his fellow planning commissioners to "Study it hard and make your own decisions."
    While the case will be heard in August, it will likely not be voted on until September under normal P&Z procedure for cases with opposition.
    Carroll said the P&Z office would forward to them any additional information from the attorney on the case to keep the members abreast of the issues.
    The law firm representing Gary D. Prewitt Living Revocable Trust and Enowski Farms, Inc. — Curran, Bridges & Bridges — sent a letter to the county commission July 2 threatening a lawsuit if the planning commission reconsidered the CUP and PUD. The law firm argued that the CUP and PUD had already been decided — and the appeal period lapsed — under the sole authority given to the planning commission under the ULC, unlike zoning which is decided by the county commission.
    Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken has stated that CUPs and PUDs have only conditional approval from the planning commission as they are contingent on the underlying zoning which must be approved by the county commission.
    Franken also stated that the planning commission may review a previously-approved CUP or PUD at any time as long as the case is properly noticed and that he believes the county is operating within the scope of the law in its handling of the situation.
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